VACOLAO Celebrates Today’s Declaration by Attorney General Mark Herring That DACA Recipients Are Eligible for In-State Tuition
Today’s decision will finally recognize that Virginia law does not bar students who are DACA recipients from qualifying as domiciled in our state for in-state tuition purposes.
Alexandria, VA: At an 11:00 a.m. press conference on the campus of Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring declared that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients do have Virginia domicile, which makes them eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia’s public institutions of higher learning.
For a number of years, VACOLAO has been working in conjunction with our partner organizations, immigrant students and other concerned Virginians to have this class of students recognized as eligible for in-state tuition. Many of these students were brought to the United States as children and often end up graduating from Virginia high schools. Before today’s announcement, those who were accepted to study at Virginia’s public colleges and universities were treated as international students when it came to the tuition amount they had to pay.
“VACOLAO is elated to learn that Attorney General Herring has recognized that DACA recipients are domiciled in Virginia and eligible for in-state tuition” says VACOLAO Chair, Edgar Aranda-Yanoc. “These hard working Virginia students who have grown up and are an important part of our state’s economic future will finally be able to study at Virginia’s public universities without the barrier of out-of-state tuition.”
Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), the only Latino member of the Virginia General Assembly, says, “Having worked tirelessly for years to secure in-state tuition for these incredible DREAMer students, I am so happy and encouraged by the Attorney General’s important and positive step in the right direction. I thank VACOLAO for their critical support of our work on this vital issue over the years.”
Delegate Thomas Davis Rust (R-Herndon), a longtime patron of the legislation to grant in-state tuition to DACA recipients states, “Most of these young people have been raised in Virginia and attend Virginia schools; they deserve the opportunity to participate in our world class institutions of public higher education. I’m pleased that the legislation that I introduced brought appropriate attention to this matter and I’m delighted that the Attorney General has taken this action.”
Senator Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) adds, “Today’s news from the Attorney General’s office is very important and exciting. With the opportunity to receive in state tuition, DACA students will have the opportunities they have earned – to receive a college education and to fulfill their goals. I would like to commend VACOLAO for their years of work on this important issue. I have appreciated the opportunity to work with them and will continue to do so on other shared concerns in the future.”
“As a mother, I can today breath more easily as my children will now have the ability to attend one of Virginia’s outstanding universities,” says Lenka Mendoza, founder of Dreamer Moms USA-Virginia. “It was always hard to see my children work hard in school with dreams of going to college, all the while knowing that it would be difficult because of the cost.”
“I have had to suspend by studies for an entire year due to the high tuition costs,” says Alejandro Zuñiga, a Virginia high school graduate. “Today’s decision is a huge relief for me and the thousands of DREAMers who have grown up here and want to contribute to Virginia’s future.
Leni Gonzalez, Founding Member of VACOLAO and President of LULAC Council 4609 stated: “We applaud the declaration of the Attorney General Herring, to give relief to these students to achieve the American Dream by pursuing a higher education degree. These talented and hardworking students will stay in our Commonwealth and will enrich it in many ways”
Walter Tejada, Arlington County Board Member and VACOLAO Founding Chairman said “this is a historic day for our hard-working talented students and for those of us who have been fighting on their behalf. As someone who has worked with VACOLAO for years, and at the local, state, and national level on these issues, I am proud of the action Attorney General Herring has taken and appreciate his careful consideration and analysis of the law. This was not just the right thing to do for Virginia students who are among the best and the brightest, but it sends a message that our Commonwealth will do what is needed to remain a leader in the 21st century economy. This is a big step forward for Virginia.
Senator McEachin and Delegates Lopez, Rust, and Kory have all sponsored legislation for tuition equity for several years, despite it being consistently rejected by the Virginia General Assembly.
Under current law, to be domiciled in Virginia, a person must reside in Virginia and have the present intent to remain in Virginia indefinitely. According to the Attorney General’s Office, “Conferral of DACA by the Department of Homeland Security has the effect of making the DACA recipient lawfully present in the United States. …Once a student has had DACA for one year, he or she is eligible to establish domicile and qualify for in-state tuition.”
About The Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO): The Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) is a coalition of non-profit organizations serving and supporting the Latino/Hispanic immigrant communities in Virginia. Since its foundation in 2002, VACOLAO have been advocating for the rights of Latino immigrant in the Commonwealth. VACOLAO works to empower, secure equal treatment, opportunity, and representation for Latinos/Hispanics. To achieve this mission VACOLAO has provided leadership for education and advocacy for Latino immigrants and immigrant advocate supporters.
For more infomation go to www.vacolao.org